This study investigates how college students can be social support catalysts for organ donation and how social, cognitive and attitudinal dimensions impact organ donor registration. A total of 317 people participated in the exploratory portion of the project and a total of 1800 responses were obtained from an online survey to members of a national student organization. The findings show that perceptions of the benefits of organ donation and altruistic motives had the greatest impact on the support for organ donation while respondents' knowledge about how to register to be an organ donor was the dominant dimension for donor registration status. Social-based communications had the next greatest impact for both support and donor registration. Based on the findings, an 18-month social media campaign was launched with the student organization that had 20 421 website visitors, 4473 Facebook members, 1189 YouTube video submissions with 164 000 views, motivated 19 623 people to go to a state's organ donor registration page, and had 9000 documented organ donor registrations. Within the student organization, organ donor registration increased by 28%. On the basis of these project results, Donate Life America and other sponsors have provided funding for two additional years.
This study shows that college students can be motivated to register as organ donors and become advocates through outreach efforts using social media, student organizations and interpersonal communications.